• Children are encouraged to use imaginative play using props and dress up to explore different family roles.

    Culture is explored though books and stories and the use of play groups.

    Teachers encourage students with kindness and patience, creating opportunities for each child to

    Explore a variety of activities and materials

    Find answers to their questions using books and other resources

    Engage in class discussions

    Bring materials of interest to them into the class room

    Follow through on projects

    Teachers provide non-critical support, recognize the uniqueness of each child, provide opportunities for children to undertake activities in the classroom, talk to children about what they have seen, heard, or done, and allow children to share with others the lessons they learned.



  • group 1Lil' Gems Preschoolearly childhood based philosophy is centered on key elements taken from the theories of Erikson, Maslow, Skinner and Piaget. 

    Operating in the greater Sammamish community since 1993, we offer preschool and pre-kindergarten programs for children ages 3-5 that live in the Issaquah School District. 

    We provide a nurturing, family oriented atmosphere for families including neighborhoods around Pine Lake, Beaver Lake, Klahanie, Trossachs, Issaquah Highlands and Grand Ridge .

    With emphasis on learning, socialization, good decision making and creativity, our caring team is looking forward to helping your child on their journey of self-discovery in a safe structured setting.



  • Social and emotional development is significantly associated with a child’s overall success in school and all life settings. 

    Our curriculum encourages and gives children opportunities to master many social goals before kindergarten:

    Follow safety rules, take turns, and choose self-directed activities during free choice play

    Play cooperatively and develop friendships with peers

    Interact with a variety of children, trust and interact comfortably with familiar adults

    Follow direction and class room rules

    Engage positively in group activities

    Respect others, demonstrate negotiation skills, accept responsibility

    Have a realistic sense of their abilities and strengths

    Communicate verbally to be understood, express feelings, and respect sameness and differences in others

    During child directed free choice play time, children engage in their choice of interactive play while learning to negotiate, problem solve, communicate, compromise, develop friendships, and share.

    During teacher directed time, fun opportunities are provided for children to learn to act in socially appropriate ways through role playing, games, drama, music, and group learning. Puppet shows, felt stories, and books are also provided to help stimulate appropriate social behavior.

    Conflict provides opportunities to learn skills such as negotiating, asking, and compromise. Teachers assist children in solving conflicts when needed.


    Our language rich class room provides open communication, where teachers circulate during free play to encourage language skills and help children initiate and respond to conversations with others.

    During group learning, children :     

    • Tell stories, creating endings with alternatives 
    • Contribute to group discussions 
    • Singsongs                                         

    Language arts are encouraged with story time, puppet shows, games, and through music and drama.

    Reading literacy is achieved through a variety of methods: 

    • Use of weekly themes based on alphabetic letters  
    • Books are made available during child directed free choice play time

    Creative, cognitive learning games are used to build alphabet and phonics recognition. Children learn through a fun process that produces results.

    Process – using an alphabet fishing game, the child uses a magnetic pole to catch a fish with a letter on it (fun)

    Product – after catching the fish, child identifies the letter (challenge)



    Lil' Gemsendeavors to lovingly help excite, encourage and motivate each child to enjoy and discover that learning can be fun!  Lesson plans establish routines for children who are guided and directed in predictable, positive, and constructive ways.

    Our curriculum is full of fun and creative “hands on learning” experiences designed around “Washington State Early Learning and Development Guidelines" , which provide a framework for early learning, birth through third grade. 

    Our teachers provide consistent, responsive, and emotionally nurturing guidance in the class room to help encourage social and emotional growth, fostered during both child and teacher directed time.  


    The Guidelines are based on the latest research on early childhood development and other best practicesand  organized by six developmental domains:   About Me, My Family & Culture; Building Relationships; Touching, Seeing, Hearing & Moving; Growing Up Healthy; Communicating;  Learning About My World


  • Welcome to Lil’ Gems Preschool - we are very excited to have your child join our programs!

    My passion has always been to work with children.

    To prepare for this, I obtained a Psychology degree from Seattle University and a Master’s Degree in School Counseling. My experience includes both an internship and a substitute position with Lake Washington School District and employment as a nanny of two curious and fun loving boys, ages 2 & 5.

    When the opportunity arose to open a preschool, I knew this was meant to be.

    My corporate world experience with T-Mobile provides a business perspective to ensure we focus on good customer service to parents and quality programming and teaching for children.

    Our family - my husband, Chris, daughter, Hanna, and our playful Australian Shepherd, Dax - call  Sammamish our home - less than 5 miles from our school location.  My "free" time is spent enjoying family and friends, watching football (Go Hawks!), reading and trips to the park.

    I’m looking forward to an exciting new school year and to meeting all of our Preschool families!

  • Lil' Gems Preschool school year is September through June and coincides with the Issaquah School District calendar. 

    Securing a place for your child in our facility requires completion of the Enrollment Application and the WA State Immunization Form.

    Enrollment is done on a first come basis.  A child is not considered enrolled until the paperwork and the required deposit has been turned in. 

    Tuition is due on the first of every month and can be paid with cash, check or credit card.  We accept VISA, MasterCard and American Express. 

    Discounts are available if you have more than one child enrolled.  We do not pro-rate our monthly fees and refunds are only given in the case of moving out of the area or job loss. 

    Our LGP Guidebook for Parentscan assist families with answers to many common questions.  




  • Lil' Gems Preschoolis proud of the reputation that we have built over the last several decades. 

    Here are some basic facts that may help you make the decision to trust us with your child. 

    What do parents think about Lil'Gems?

    Currently, 100% of the students that didn't graduate from LGP have returned.  In the previous year, only one student left.  

    What is your communication strategy?

    We encourage teachers and parents to communicate regularly, through personal meetings and phone conversations.

    Are there restrictions on the times we can visit?

    We offer an "open door" atmosphere; parents are welcome at any time.

    Do you encourage parent participation?

    Yes!  Our PTA needs your input. 

    Are teachers current with learning approaches and information?

    Staff is required to participate in on-going certification classes, as well as being trained in CPR and first aid. 

    Do you have special events?

    Celebrations around birthdays and holidays are welcomed.  We offer a Halloween Carnival and an Easter Egg Hunt. 

    Is financial assistance available?

    Scholarships may be available based on meeting established criteria. 

    If I have more than one child, are there discounts?

    Discounts are available for two or more children from the same family.  

    How many children are in each classroom?

    We strive to maintain small class sizes with a low student-teacher ratio. 

    Do you offer summer programs?

    Summer programs may be offered in the future. 

    Are there cultural activities available?

    Students perform in musical presentations and learn dramatic arts, which can culminate in performances for parents.  

    How will we know how our child is doing?

    Progress reports are available for all Pre-K students. 












    Children are encouraged to develop self help skills and by using themes, they learn to:  

    • Asking for help when needed
    • Using the toilet and washing their hands,
    • Putting on their coats and shoes
    • Telling time
    • Healthy food and what is food and what is not
    • Taking care of their bodies and teeth, including getting enough sleep
    • Safe and unsafe household objects
    • Fire and earthquake safety
    • Personal safety
  • OnceLil' Gems Preschoolis selected as an option for a child, parents will find it very easy to keep in touch with what happens on a daily basis.

    We have developed our Guidebook for Parents to assist in sharing our operational strategies with every family before they have to reference it. 



    Hands-on strategies and fun help children develop skill in math and science including creative math learning games to emphasize process, exploration, inquiry, and solution. Creativity is nurtured and developed.

    Our open art center is available during child directed time, including activities such as painting, beading, weaving, drawing, stamping, coloring, stencils, cutting and pasting materials, etc.



    Structured lesson plans include:

    Math presented through fun learning games, books, dramatic stories, poems, felt stories and music exposure to

    Shapes, sizes, sequences, counting, classifying, recognizing and creating patterns

    Numerical recognition, predicting, comparing, matching, grouping, using pocket charts, and sorting

    Science projects using “hands-on” methods help children learn

    Problem solving and explanations on why simple events occur

    Understanding changes including strategies to change outcomes, and cause/effect  

    Music includes musical performance experiences through learning     

    Singing, playing instruments, learning rhythm, dance and movement                                                    

    Learning tempo, pitch, intensity and mood     

    Exposure to children’s music, along with classical, opera, Broadway and international genres

    Dramatic arts, role play and engaging in dramatic stories are also included opportunities.


    Happy children have come through our doors for decades. 

    Make an appointment to come visit us for yourself!

    Lil' Gems Preschool

    2455 215th Avenue SE

    Sammamish, WA 98075


    Kristen Thorsen - Director

    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    A nurturing, family oriented learning facility for communities around Sammamish in the Issaquah School District. 





  • Miss Amanda (Beckstead) graduated from Brigham Young University in 1997 with a degree in both Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education.  In addition, she held a Kindergarten-8th grade teaching certificate in Utah and California. 

    During college she taught at the Goddard School in Wayne, PA, the Challenger School in Orem, Utah, and Midvale Elementary in Midvale, Utah. After college, Miss Amanda moved East to teach pre-school in Washington DC at the FDIC Center Preschool. Upon leaving teaching, she took a position in Education Research at the Education Statistics Services Institute in Washington, DC. 

    When Miss Amanda married and began having children, she left the working world to stay home and take care of her four children, who are now 15, 14, 12 and 8 years old. But she continued growing her experience with educating children by volunteering at both school and church- working with children from ages 3 to 18. 

    "AlthoughI worked as a teacher for roughly 5 years, I really have been working with kids either as a preschool teacher, piano teacher, school volunteer or church volunteer for the last 20 years.  We moved to Sammamish from Connecticut a little over a year ago so my husband could take a position with Amazon.  I am very happy to have found Lil Gems Preschool!"

  • Miss Janet (Lewis) gets pleasure from teaching preschool age children because they are always so excited to learn and she believes learning should be fun – a personal goal that she strives to employ every day at Lil Gems Preschool.

    She enjoys the process of helping children develop into their own person, one that has respect for others and has learned to share, interact and cooperate with others their own age.  She adores their artwork, reading them stories and loves to be included in their puppet shows.

    Since 2009, Miss Janet has had the pleasure of serving as a teacher to the wonderful, young minds that have come through the doorway of what she describes as “our amazing and loving environment.”

    Prior opportunities for teaching included working at her church’s primary school, where she worked with children from 18 months to 16 years of age.

    As a mother of two teenage daughters, she has also been an active volunteer at their schools, from preschool through junior high. Besides being a room parent, she worked in the school’s office with the administration as well as with individual students. She was also a Girl Scout leader for her youngest daughter’s troop.


    Children that are four years of age as of August 31stcan participate in our Pre K programs.

    Lil’ Gems Preschoolpresents children with rich opportunities to explore.

    Our curriculum meets the WA State Early Learning and Development Guidelines, a set of statements that reflect expectations for children’s knowledge and behavior. The difference between our preschool and pre-Kindergarten curriculum is the focus on Kindergarten readiness.

    Bright and colorful classrooms provide an array of hands on early learning experiences that are fun and build skills.

    Classes provide opportunities to learn through free choice play, stories, arts and crafts, music, drama, puppet shows, role play, dance, rhythm, movement, as well as large and small motor activities.

    Fun and exciting activities focus a child’s exposure to concrete math, number recognition, cognitive literacy, language arts, writing, small motor skills, and social skills. These endeavors are characterized by stories and poems, fun learning games which incorporate music, science, interactive stories, puppet shows, the use of rhythm and music to teach cognitive concepts.


    Children that are three years of age by August 31st* are welcome to participate in our Pre-School programs.

    Lil' Gems Preschooloffers a fun balance of learning and play activities, created to meet the WA State Early Learning and Development Guidelines  a broadly defined set of statements reflecting expectations for a child’s knowledge and behavior.

    Bright and colorful classrooms enhance weekly themes which combine learning experiences and play in a fun, safe and encouraging environment.

    Warm, nurturing, enthusiastic and patient teachersstrive to understand the individual child’s developmental needs and learning style. Time is taking to help each child discover, in his or her own way, the fascinating world around them.

    Children are encouraged to explore and learn at their own pace during free choice time. Teacher directed time includes both small and large group activities.

    Every day at Lil' Gems Preschool is filled with play, stories, arts and crafts, music, drama, puppet shows, role playing, dance and movement, large motor activity, small motor activity, exploration, and hands on learning activities.

    *Younger than 3 year old children will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Director.


     Lil' Gemsprograms are developmentally appropriate for ages 3 to 5 years.

    Children 3 years old by August 31st should consider our preschool program.

    Children 4 years old by August 31st should be enrolled in our Pre-Kindergarten program. 

    Younger children will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

    We encourage you to review both programs to decide where your child may fit. 


     Daily Schedule for 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM Class

    5 minutes       Greetings

    55 minutes     Free choice time: children choose play or engage in a variety of centers

                           Block or train table, book nook, crafts table, dress up, kitchen area, music, puzzle & sensory table

    30 Minutes     Music time: songs, instruments, dance, finger plays, and music program practice

    15 Minutes     Child sharing time: show and tell time followed by snacks and story time

    15 minutes     Creative Art time: painting, glueing, cutting, tracing, stringing, weaving, etc.

    30 Minutes    Circle time: calendar, date, weather, theme introduction, lessons, and learning games

    10 Minutes     Writing time: pre-K classes  Free choice time: preschool classes

    30 Minutes     Drama: role playing, puppet shows, interactive stories, felt stories, and play practice

    20 Minutes     Lunch

    30 Minutes     Outside play: social emotional activities, role play, and large motor development

    1:00-1:10        Dismissal

  • Lil' Gems Preschoolhopes that the learning experience at our facility is a joyful and successful one for your child. 

    Beyond our walls, however, are many useful websites to help younger families understand the education process and what might be available for them.

    We will strive to offer links to sites which we believe may be useful, both during your time at our facility and beyond. 



  • Lil’ Gemsalso engages the services of Small Hands on Art, a not-for -profit organization that instructs students in the performing arts, where everyone gets a part in a production.

    The whole process from a simple audition to learning characterization, singing ability, and simple dance makes for a fun learning environment.

    Most students feel like they are going to have a great time with friends or make new ones, little do they know they are coming away with some amazing instruction and stage presence.

    Additional fees may be required for participation.

  • "This is our second year and we couldn't be happier. I can't say enough about this preschool -- warm, safe, loving, educational! " (Elaine H.)

    “Simply put,this is a lovely little preschool. It provides a very loving, nurturing, and safe environment while doing a great job preparing her for Kindergarten-my daughter loves it and she has learned so much. She especially enjoys music and drama!” (Iris G.)

    “I like my school because they have costumes and they have cars, I can paint and I can write my name and letters!” (Louisa van S.)

    “I have seen kids coming in for the first weeks very shy and after two years they get a lead role in the end of year play! The teachers are always encouraging the children and they really show that they love the children-that iswhat is amazing! (Jody S. )

    "This was such a find for us and the teachers are what make it! They are just wonderful, thoughtful, and full of energy for the kids.” (Sue M.)

    “The atmosphere the teachers create is a loving, caring environment with fun activities for the children to learn about the world and prepare for their Kindergarten year.” (Kathy K.)

    “It feels like family. They truly care about my child and their development.” (Lisa K.)

    "When my husband lost his job and they covered our tuition until he found another one. They really have a heart!” (Sheri T.)

    “We sent our oldest son here and when he went to Kindergarten he was so prepared. When it was time for our second son to go to preschool we did not hesitate enrolling him, as we knew that they would work on Kindergarten readiness and I would not have to worry.” (Mary M.)

    “I kept hearing about this great little school that so many of my friends had sent their children to. I checked it out and enrolled my daughter and she loved it. The teachers always made time to check in with parents. I saw the director working in the school room several times a week and whenever I had a question she would always get back to me. “(Mandy H.)

    “I am so glad we found a place where the teachers even introduced me to other moms and helped me arrange car pooling and play dates.” (Lisa P.)

    “My child was very shy and they really helped her feel at ease. The director loves the children and she would always talk to my daughter and encourage her and it made such a difference. She really blossomed and became so much more confident. I would recommend this wonderful little school to everyone.” (Cindi B.)